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Surgery for gallbladder cancer

surgical oncology

Surgery for gallbladder cancer

Surgery is frequently a component of treatment for gallbladder cancer. It may be performed to completely remove the tumor if the cancer is still localized, or to relieve symptoms or pain if the cancer is more widespread.

  • Staging laparoscopy: A staging laparoscopy is often performed before surgery, to allow the surgeon to get a closer look at the cancer and surrounding structures, and to determine the strategy for gallbladder cancer surgery. To do this, a long tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision, and images are sent back that let the surgeon see where the cancer is, and how far it may have spread.
  • Cholecystectomy: This is an operation to remove the gallbladder. A simple cholecystectomy in which only the gallbladder is removed is used most often for non-cancerous causes, such as when the gallbladder needs to be taken out because of gallstones. However, a more extensive, or radical, procedure is used most frequently if cancer is suspected. In an extended cholecystectomy, the surgeon removes the gallbladder along with a portion of the nearby liver, and the regional lymph nodes. Portions of other nearby organs may also be removed if the surgeon suspects the cancer has spread. This more extensive procedure can help to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back after gallbladder cancer surgery.

What is surgery?

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss appropriate surgical options that meet your individual needs.

Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other medical comorbidities. For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant) or after surgery (adjuvant) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage any side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians are available to work with your surgical oncologist to support your healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function, often at the time of surgery or following surgery.